• WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2012

    • Posted by: Jean Lee

    Brooklyn-based band POP ETC is made up of Christopher Chu, Jonathan Chu, and Julian Harmon -- formerly known as The Morning Benders. The group changed their name in respect of the LGBT community after discovering its derogatory meaning in other areas of the world, but the new moniker seems to have been applied to their sound as well. Very little of The Morning Benders is heard on this new album. You would never guess that POP ETC is a reincarnation of the lo-fi, harmonic music makers that played "Excuses" on the album Big Echo . Bands don't completely change their image and sound often and POP ETC has taken their opportunity to explore pop (etc.) music. Like a perfectly good soy milk shake for a freshly pledged vegan, the initial intention is fantastic but you may, at first, miss the previous enjoyed creamy texture of real milk. Or is it the other way around? Is this the band stripped of its animal proteins?

    The lyrics are melancholy but the songs are catchy, fun dance beats, and the self-titled album is full of high-octane synth notes and tunes inspired by R&B. If you listen to some of the self-titled on the car radio, the tracks even sound like auto-tuned, percussion heavy songs reminiscent of any top 40 hit. If this is you, dance in traffic and hope no one sees. But the gems of POP ETC are found with close listening. The lyrics speak directly to the listener. It's like Harmon and Chu^2 are asking you to give the new sound a chance when they play synth-phonic tunes and utter the lyrics "Don't try to pick this apart" in "R.Y.B" (Rock Your Body). And the album does not move away from its consistent upbeat tune. Aesthetically pleasing and very dancable (i.e. "Back To Your Heart"). POP ETC commented in an interview with Life and Times :

    "I think with a lot of commercial pop, its made on an assembly line, so a lot of the personality and nuances are lost. When you hear a POP ETC song, its just the three of us. We write the songs, we play everything, and we produce it. So everything youre hearing is the product of our collective personality."

    This is a band that went through a dramatic transformation, in name and sound, and a reconstruction of pop paradigms (to appreciate and entertain) is a huge goal for a little indie. So, give it a listen. Whatever their milkshake is made of, it's still bringing us to the yard.

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